You've surely heard by now of the Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because she was "acting on God's authority." Despite the Supreme Court's ruling that marriage between same-sex couples is now legal in every state, Davis won't budge. Rather than issue a marriage license to any same-sex couples in her county, she instead stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether.
“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience,” she told the New York Times. “It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word.”
Gay and straight couples who objected to her refusal to do her job sued, saying she should be forced to issue the licenses or resign her position if she can't abide by the law. Davis, stubbornly, won't do either. A federal court refused to excuse her from her duty, so she brought her complaint to the Supreme Court (asking for "asylum for her conscience"), which also declined to give her a pass on issuing the licenses. Still Davis has refused to do that part of her job. She's also refused to quit. And she's making a big, religious stink over it in a move that smacks of opportunism (we'll be keeping an eye out for Martyr: The Kim Davis Story).
The Davis case also has an Orlando connection. The Kentucky clerk is being represented by lawyers from the Liberty Counsel, which calls itself a "nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics." The Liberty Counsel, which is based in Orlando (well, Longwood, to be exact), was founded by none other than Mat Staver, a former minister and workers comp attorney who has pretty much made a career out of fighting gay marriage, tolerance and nondiscrimination laws. He declared back in March that if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage (of course it eventually did), he would refuse to abide by the law. "If they come out with a decision that is contrary to God's natural created order, I personally will advocate disobedience to it ... and collectively, we cannot accept that as the rule of law," he told a local Tea Party group in Orlando in March, according to Right Wing Watch. Staver's making good on that promise.
The Liberty Counsel and Staver are doing their best to make Davis a symbol of the put-upon, persecuted Christians who are being forced by the courts to act a little more Christian toward other people who have to share this world with them. Today, Staver and Co. released a charged statement attributed to Davis, in which she talks about how very distressing this whole situation has been for her, just a regular old court clerk from Kentucky who had no idea she'd be thrust into the national spotlight over this issue. Even following the long, contentious debate and much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling, she really had no clue:
"I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage," the statement attributed to Davis reads. " I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them."
What it fails to address is that nobody's asking Davis, who seems to have an inflated version of her role as the issuer of a license, to join anyone in a religious sacrament – all she's got to do is issue a very neutral, very bland and very secular governmental document that doesn't have any godliness in it.
Anyway, the statement adds that she owes her life, "to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me" and goes on to state that this is a matter of "religious liberty" and that she's "requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected."
Freedom to practice your religion, and freedom from government imposing a religion on you, is what the Founders envisioned. That is to say, we should all enjoy freedom from religious bigots taking over governmental offices, pushing their views on the populace and dictating the moral code.
We'll take things out with this quote from one of the most plainspoken of the Founding Fathers, John Adams:
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."